This truly is the Coming of Age of Corporate Anthropology. All around us, the number of companies that are employing anthropologists is soaring, as are those that are engaging firms to conduct ethnographic or observational research for them. Another bellwether is Google search, where interest in anthropology-trained culture change experts increased dramatically in 2017, as I report in my recent article in Huffington Post.
I saw this “coming of age of anthropology” not long ago when I spoke for the second year at the Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) Roundtable. Each June, the MCA gathers with its fifteen independent college members and 120 businesses from across Michigan and beyond to think creatively about how higher education needs to change in order to better serve its students, its communities and the businesses and industries that need its talent. In order to provide industry with the new types of employees it needs, colleges and universities need to change their cultures, their purposes and their methods so that their graduates can find good jobs in today’s market and become valuable elements of fast-changing companies.
Thanks to the great leadership of Bob Bartlett and Karen Mulligan, the MCA convened a number of lecturers who spoke at length about anthropology, sharing how its methods, theory and tools added significant value to their businesses and why other companies should embrace anthropology as well.